Defense shines as Lakers complete perfect 9-0 regular season to claim first conference title since 2014 with shutout win over the Chiefs

The Ozark Conference throne belongs to the undefeated Camdenton Lakers. 

There was just one last team to check off the list in the pursuit of an Ozark Conference crown and perfect 9-0 regular season and Camdenton did not leave it up to chance Friday night in a 35-0 shutout of the Chiefs.

The Lakers not only earned their first conference hardware since 2014, but also made sure the Class 4 District 5 playoffs would come through Bob Shore Stadium once again for the second straight year by remaining atop of the district standings. Camdenton, which wrapped up the regular season with two straight home games, is now guaranteed to have the next three playoff games at home should the team keep winning and have a shot to claim the 28th district championship in program history. 

If an unbeaten regular season is any indication, the Lakers should have a good opportunity to do just that. 

Friday night's win began with the "Purple Haze" defense and the unit made big plays throughout the night.

The unit forced Kickapoo to go three-and-out on the opening possession, senior defensive back Talon Randazzo intercepted a pass on the second and junior defensive end Mason Draper was able to scoop and score a touchdown on a fumble at the Kickapoo 1-yard line that was the result of a high snap over the quarterback's head on the third. Trailing 7-0 with 15 seconds left in the first quarter, Kickapoo tried to convert a 4th-and-2 on Camdenton's 46-yard line and was halted by a sack. 

The Laker offense got things going early in the second as junior running back Jadin Faulconer ran in a 5-yard touchdown to put his team up 14-0. After Kickapoo coughed up the ball on the ensuing kickoff, Camdenton took over on the Chiefs' 17-yard line and Draper was in the end zone on the first play as he hauled in a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent to make it 21-0.

Once again, the defense came through for the Lakers on the next few series as senior defensive lineman Mason Kinney dislodged the ball with a big hit on a pass play that set the offense up at Kickapoo's 26-yard line and senior defensive back Jase Nicklas made a leaping grab for an interception on his own 46-yard line. However, both gifts did not result in points as the Lakers botched a snap on a field goal attempt from the Kickapoo 16 on the former turnover and turned the ball over on downs at the Kickapoo 36 for the latter. 

Camdenton made sure to add to the advantage before halftime, though, as junior wide receiver Cooper Ezard hauled in a 15-yard pass to extend the advantage to 28-0 with 48 seconds left before the break. The Lakers added their final score of the night with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter when DeLaurent scrambled and extended the ball to the pylon. 

The defense took care of the rest, forcing two more fumbles including one at the 1-yard line that was forced by Nicklas to preserve the shutout. Camdenton forced seven Kickapoo turnovers before the night was through and are a good reason why the team remains perfect so far in 2019 along with a highly-productive offense.

Camdenton (9-0) will meet No. 8 Pacific (1-8) in the first round of the district playoffs for the second straight year Friday night at 7 p.m.